back to article BT shields gentle customers from Min of Sound pirate raids

Music and club brand the Ministry of Sound has had to give up chasing 25,000 alleged file sharers – because BT has deleted their details. The Ministry of Sound started legal action in July to force ISPs to hand over customer details. The nightclub claimed these customers were guilty of infringing its copyright. Letters …


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  1. Not Fred31

    BT lawyers to return to law school?

    "to ensure our broadband customers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people."

    Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      citation needed

      Tell that to our libel laws.

      1. PerfectBlue


        I was under the impression that under British laws this was the case. Remember, that in a libel case, it is the defense who is guilty until proved Innocent, but the prosecution who can be found to have committed libel.

        If you make a serious accusation against somebody then that person is considered innocent under law, and you (as the person making the accusation) must prove them guilty of whatever it is that you are accusing them of.

        You are the prosecution, and they are the defendant. If you fail to prosecute your case then you can be found to have committed libel against them by making an accusation that you cannot back up.

        This is how it's supposed to be, otherwise somebody could simply make a serious accusation against you, and you'd have to prove that it was false, rather than them having to prove that it's true.

        Suppose that a big newspaper made a serious accusation against somebody who couldn't afford a lawyer. Under libel laws the newspaper must prove that what they have said is true, rather than you proving that ti's false.

        This is how it works in a lot of countries. Such as the US, UK, Japan and so on.

        1. Displacement Activity
          Thumb Down


          You (and AC) got that wrong.

          In the UK, the person who is alleged to have committed the libel must prove their case. So, if the NewsOfTheWorld alleges that a well-known Scottish MSP is a fornicating baboon, and said baboon sues the NOTW for libel, the NOTW must then *prove* that said baboon has fornicated inappropriately. This can be difficult, but you might reasonably say that if the NOTW can't prove its case then it shouldn't have printed the story in the first place. Said baboon is, for current purposes, innocent until proven guilty, although that's not really relevant in libel.

          In the US, the situation is very different. If I call someone a paedophile in print, and he sues me, then *he* has to prove that he *isn't* a paedophile. Which is in general, of course, impossible, so I can say pretty much what I want and get away with it. This is justified in the name of "Free Speech".

          Which is all very interesting, because many people, particularly those who have different libel laws, are of the opinion that British libel laws suppress Free Speech. I personally am of the opinion that these people are just a little bit Thick, but YMMV.

      2. Grease Monkey

        @citation needed

        "Tell that to our libel laws."

        Libel isn't a criminal matter so the presumed innocence doesn't apply anyway.

    2. PerfectBlue


      These days, all that it takes for them to try to prosecute is an IP address.

      It won't be long before the accuse somebody with an internet enabled TV or some other device, which will have an IP but no download capabilities, of file sharing.

      1. Jon Thompson 1

        Re: silly

        Already happened. Can't remember the source, but it was an article about how spurious DMCA takedowns are, either here or on /.

        A US college professor regularly received them for his networked printers etc, which had public IP addresses. Seems some spurious ambulance-chasers just scan for IPs in the same range as one they've allegedly got proof of P2P activity, and just send an email about those IPs too.

    3. Steven Jones


      Dear oh dear - that was clearly the everyday use of the word innocent, and not the definition used in criminal trials. As it happens, any case that was brought on this would be a civil one and nobody is found guilty in such circumstances. They might be found to have broken copyright and damages awarded against them in court. There is not assumption of innocence in civil cases as it simply doesn't apply. You either win or lose a case.

      There are criminal cases for breach of copyright, but generally they only apply where there is commercial exploitation. This particular trawling exercise was not looking at that.

      Time and time again people on these boards fail to understand the difference between criminal and civil law (not helped when the media describes "damages" as "fines").

  2. blackworx

    Clippity clop clippity clop


  3. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    adequately protected?

    The only adequately protected people here, appears to be the Rights Holders.

    If the ACS:LAW proved anything it was that as consumers we have no protection from over-zealous, ambulance chasing solicitors.

    I think the title here was a bit misleading here. BT hasn't shielded anyone customers or not. To use their words… 'Our door remains open to Ministry of Sound and any other rights holder who wants to enforce their rights'

    Where is the shield in that? Somebody sack the headline writer. I guess so close to home time somebody didn't read the article the whole way through.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Everyone is innocent until proven guilty?

    Not in civil law. In civil law its often cheaper to pay up/settle than defend yourself, and this is what ACS Law and Ministry of Sound rely on.

    The leaked emails from ACS Law show how dodgy the collection of IPs of suspected downloaders is. And then ISPs have been quietly admitting that their records are less accurate not being able to pin DHCP leases down to the exact minute.

    There is a rumour that SKY may have been passing tainted/wrong data to ACS Law and others. Maybe BT are aware of this and do no want to get caught out, as people now start to contest the likes of ACS Law and Ministry of sound rather than just paying up.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: adequately protected?

      Perhaps you should have read the article again if you didn't understand it at first. The customers have been protected from having their details handed over to someone who may not adequately ensure their security.

      1. irish donkey

        BT enforced their own data policy...

        That data policy is there to protect their customers. Which is a legal requirement in this Country. They just never bothered enforcing it before.

        I don't really see how that can be construed as a benevolent BT protecting their gentle customers. They never bothered before... but I guess now its in the news with fines from the ICO to follow they have decided to obey their own rules rather than just pay them lip service

        I take it you work for BT PR perhaps?

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      Word of advice to anyone pursuing a defence in a court of law..

      Ask the ISP to provide proof positive that all the devices involved in recording the IP address, including the netscraping tool that picks up the IP's from the torrent uploaders, are in actually stratum 1 compliant.

      If they're not, how can they prove that it was you?*

      *Most IP leases are quite long so this doesn't completely hold water - but it does mean you can prove they're equipment isn't 100% in synch regarding timestamps.

      Christ, the number of machines in the company I'm working for that are still using GMT (not adjusted) when they're redundant partner kit is on BST (well, GMT now but adjusted).

      Makes going through the logs a real pain the ariston.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So let me get this right...

    ... 4chan has saved 20,000 people from legal action.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They consider themselves a MUSIC brand?

    Ministry of Shit is probably more accurate.

    Why would anyone want to download their crap?

  7. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    At least one company takes privacy seriously...

    Never expected BT to be the one to stand firm with principals rather than sell their customers down the line for something they may not have even done like some of the other ISPs.

    Good on ya BT!

    Innocent until proven guilty!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Given the fact it was a BT employee

      Who emailed unencrypted excel files matching names to "infringing" IP's I think this may be a case of closing the gate after the horse has bolted.

    2. V 2

      BT - taking privacy seriously! Pffffft

      Hang on...

      This is the same company that climbed into bed with Phorm!

      Bet they would have had different principles if there was money in it for them..... But then I'm a cynic ;)

    3. John G Imrie

      Because downloading it

      reflects the true value of the 'music'?

    4. Jim Morrow

      who is this bt?

      are you praising the same bt that handed over customer data to phorm?

      or is there some other bt in a parallel universe far, far away?

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: Jim Morrow

        Maybe they learned from previous mistakes?

        Besides it's still undecided whether BT broke the law with Phorm, although it's pretty bad still.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      more of a case of BT covering their arse, in case 25000 people sue them for not protecting their data, the ICO wont do for them will they!!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prove it

    "The music brand then decided it wasn't worth the cost of providing the extra information to pursue just 5,000 people, so it has put the pirate chase on ice."

    We never thought we would ever need to actually provide real evidence in a real court - we thought it would be enough just to threaten and bully people into paying up.

  9. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    BT FON?

    BT FON is some kind of scheme that shares domestic wireless router capacity with anyone who's in range.

    Does anyone know if the router uses a different IP address for this? If not, then the ambulance-chasers are on even more dodgy ground.

    I don't suppose anyone would have the endurance to download torrents on a mobile phone while hanging around on the pavement outside, but it's possible. And there are always the neighbours.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      It's a bit like OpenZone

      BT claim that they can tell the difference between somone on your FON connection and someone on your 'private' connection.

      IIRC the router sets up QoS for each connection amongst other things, so BT probably can tell the difference. The IP address of the router, however, will be the same for either so rights holders won't be able to tell the difference without asking BT first.

      You can connect to FON using laptops, can't help think you're confusing it with Fusion?

      If BT's claims are true about being able to tell the difference, then in theory you'd be safe from hassle because as soon as the request went in BT would say "hang on...", but that's assuming they examine each request and don't just send a bulk excel spreadsheet!

      1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        FON VPN

        I am pretty sure you get routed via FON with a different public address than the BT Home user.

    2. kwikbreaks


      The FON traffic goes via some BT kit. Your IP own will not show up on any server the FON user connects to just a BT one or maybe one issued by BT to the FON session.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        just sayin...

        As some people have mentioned if you are a BT customer there *might* always be the BT FON defence. Im no techie so I dont actually know if its true, but if a FON user is shown to have the same IP address as the householders router then that surely makes the prosecution case even harder.

        So....if thats correct why not connect to your own FON connection via wireless when downloading questionable stuff? And I would include the utter garbage that MoS produces as questionable stuff.

        So, is there a techie out there who can answer the questions? Would a 'rights holder' or their theiving accomplices know if the person allegedly downloading stuff did so via the FON side of the router or the normal home users side of it?

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge


    I wonder if Virginmedia have given out the details of its customer whos IPs are supposedly sharing copywrited material? Since their network is pretty unsecure with people using cloned modems to get internet packages they havent paid for i suspect a lot of people using these cloned modems download dodgy torrents but the IP address will come up as some inncocent customers account who will know nothing about it.

    I wonder how good an evidence of just an IP address is to get a actual conviction in court? I certainly don't think the CPS would prosecute for a offence of the strength of just a IP address without some other evidence such as the actual file being found of the accused pc

  11. Alexis Vallance


    Send out letters demanding a make-believe figure and sit back as 30 or 40% of people fall for it and send off cheques.

    It's no different from private parking company scams, except instead of the DVLA providing addresses, it's ISPs.

    Considering it costs £30 to bring a small claims case, MoS would have to cough up £750,000 just to instigate action against these internet customers. And that doesn't include costs.

    They would then have to prove demonstrable loss, which would be about £5 for a CD. Nowhere near their £350 figure, which is arbitrarily plucked out of the air.

    Much easier to just send out threatening letters and make some cash in a little scam.

    If you get one of these begging letters, simply ignore.

    1. John G Imrie

      Don't ignore it

      That's real stupid advice TM

      Write back saying you contest the figure and will await the court summons.

      Then wait, though I don't suggest holding your breath.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    County court

    "Not in civil law. In civil law its often cheaper to pay up/settle than defend yourself, and this is what ACS Law and Ministry of Sound rely on."

    No, they rely on people falling for their con.

    It takes a morning off work to defend yourself in county court, after some research to formulate your defence. The claimant has to fork out the money to bring the claim in the first place, and their costs are generally capped at interest and £50.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big issue... is that the law as it stands requires ISPs to hand over the details of which subscriber had an IP at a given time without the complainant having to provide solid evidence that the IP was actually uploading files. Logs from a bittorrent client don't (or at least, shouldn't) count as evidence since they are so easy to fake.

    To me the law needs to be changed so that the complainant provides the ISP with the IP address and date/time details. The ISP should then do some investigation on that subscriber's traffic for a given period (say a week) to see if any illegal file sharing is going on. This investigation should be carried out at the complainant's expense - the ISP should not have to pay after all. IF this provides evidence that the subscriber is illegally sharing files then the subscriber's identity can be handed over. Of course in this situation the complainant can then try to recoup their costs from the file sharer.

    The problems with the current system are (a) that it's easy for somebody to claim to be representing a rights holder in order to get a whole load of subscriber details and (b) that the burden of proof does not fall squarely with the complainant and (c) that there is no financial risk to the complainant. If BT were charging, say forty quid (an hour's labour mayber) per IP would the complainant be going after 25,000 alleged file sharers at a cost of a million quid? That would mean of course that they would need more than 10% of the alledged file sharers to cough up before they broke even.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    The missed point in this article is that Mo$ don't actually own the copyright to the music that's been uploaded. They aren't claiming for an infringement on music copyrights at all.

    The basis of their claim is that they own the IP rights on the play order of the tracks on their compilations, i.e. the playlist!

    They deserve all they get from 4chan et al.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite interesting, However

    I hope they will defend us with TV downloading, I have BT Vision and have found that Channel 5 downloads have disappeared.

    So due to C5 and BT messing up I had to use torrents - yet I have already paid for it.

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